Brandie Medlock’s family has been creating and selling homemade jams and jellies for over 30 years.
“They’ve been making those since before I was born,” Brandie laughs as she points to a rustic stand stacked with mason jars of preserves. “Jam really was the beginning of it all.”
Brandie is the president of The Greenhouse Project, a nonprofit that focuses on increasing local access to fresh produce. She sets up shop weekly in a booth at the Eaton Rapids Medical Center (ERMC) Farmers Market. Every week Brandie, her daughter, her parents (and their dogs) arrive at the market with multitudes of delicious preserves, jams, baked goods, and produce in tow.
Even though the Medlock family started out in the business of preserves, these days you can always find a variety of fresh veggies and fruit at The Greenhouse Project’s stand. Brandie told me they grow their produce at a local garden just down the road from Eaton Rapids, in Springport.
“My favorite thing to grow is the Heirloom tomatoes,” Medlock says. “We’ve tried a bunch of varieties, from the older seeds to the newer types, and we always grow them 100 percent organic and GMO free.”
In fact, the current produce offerings from The Greenhouse Project are just the tip of the iceberg. Brandie tells me that their real growing season is just about to begin, and customers can expect to see an abundant variety in the coming months. They expect to have peppers, leeks, onions, melons, and even pumpkins as the season progresses.
“We had a late start to the growing season this year,” she said, “so most of what we grow we haven’t even begun to harvest yet!”
In addition to the wonderful variety of produce The Greenhouse Project sells each week, the homemade jams and jellies on this stand are a prize all their own. Somehow, despite their low-sugar content, these spreads are packed with flavor.
When I ask how they manage to get all that flavor in without the sugar skyrocketing, Brandie said simply, “When you use better fruit, you need less sugar.”
The Greenhouse Project’s booth at the ERMC Market truly is a family project. Brandie’s parents Marie and Terry, her daughter Stephanie, and their beloved pups Hazel and Rosie all attend the market each week with something to contribute. Marie makes a different variety of cookies each week, bringing everything from her famous molasses cookies to oatmeal and brown sugar, and always with an emphasis on local ingredients.
Brandie’s daughter Stephanie contributes by selling her photography in ways both unique and classic. She always brings a few prints of some of her best shots of beautiful spots around the state of Michigan, but she also offers “Portraits with Your Pet” for just $10, a service that patrons love. It’s also important to point out that the family’s dogs are contributing too, because if you don’t have a pet of your own to pose with, you’re always welcome to have a photo taken with their adorable puppy Hazel instead.
The Greenhouse Project has been coming to the Eaton Rapids Medical Center Farmers Market for years, and Brandie says she always gets a lot out of selling local food to local customers.
“I love the engagement with the customers here,” she said. “And I enjoy being able to provide fresh food to them, especially seniors and lower-income customers, for affordable prices.”
It’s clear this family finds joy in providing delicious, healthy food for their community, and it’s wonderful to see that community supporting them in return each week at the market. Stop by The Greenhouse Project any Wednesday now through mid-October, in the Eaton Rapids Medical Center parking lot from 3 to 6 p.m. Whether you’re looking for affordable, fresh produce or authentic homemade treats, you won’t be disappointed with what you find.
Article submitted by ERMC.